Jackie Chan interview: ‘They served me shark fin soup and I said no way’

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He has karate-chopped some of cinema's most fiendish adversaries in his 40-year film career. And now Jackie Chan is taking on his toughest challenge yet: changing the mindset of a billion Chinese citizens

As a child, Jackie Chan was convinced that traditional remedies would turn him into a kung fu master – tiger bone oil would cure bruises, shark fin soup would make his skin tough and supple, rhino horn would cure cancer. As an adult, Chan has become China's most famous actor – a martial arts all-action hero, who is unique in charming both Hollywood and Beijing.

But instead of crediting traditional remedies for his success, the 58-year-old is now dedicating himself to changing Chinese attitudes towards wildlife, in an attempt to convince fellow Asians to stop buying ivory, rhino horn and other products produced from endangered animals.

And he's starting right at the top.

"I was making a film in China, the government buy me a dinner," he said. "I sit down; boom – they give me shark fin soup.

"I said put it away. I said can I have some other soup, I just don't like shark fin soup. I start talking. Politely – it was ten years ago, and I was a foreigner from Hong Kong – but I told them.

Written By: Harriet Alexander
continue to source article at telegraph.co.uk

23 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve recently returned from my visit to Taiwan, aka, the better China. I have come to realise that it is a very superstitious country and despite my effort trying to find skeptic/atheist organisations, I could find one that’s still currently active. The only one that I found was a seemingly defunct group that was started by expats.

    I even asked my sociology phd candidate friend about it and even she doesn’t even know anything about skepticism. The whole idea is foreign to them.

    • In reply to #1 by adiroth:

      I’ve recently returned from my visit to Taiwan, aka, the better China. I have come to realise that it is a very superstitious country and despite my effort trying to find skeptic/atheist organisations, I could find one that’s still currently active. The only one that I found was a seemingly defunct…

      Very interesting insight, Thanks. I wonder how South Korea fairs in this regard?

  2. Bravo, Jackie Chan. Turning 1.4 billion people around is like turning a battle ship around, but even battleships turn. Someone like Jackie, who is certainly known to a good portion of that 1.4 billion, can certainly spread new ideas. I’ve never seen a single Kung-Fu or Chinese martial arts movie, but I already like this guy.

    Over here in Europe, we could also do our part to avoid animal torture. We could stop eating goose liver paté, for example, even if it seems EVERYONE is serving it to you at Christmas. I also have my doubts about lobsters which, to my knowledge, are always boiled alive, even when you buy them already boiled at the market.

    • In reply to #2 by justinesaracen:

      Bravo, Jackie Chan. I’ve never seen a single Kung-Fu or Chinese martial arts movie, but I already like this guy.

      I second that. Jackie Chan is probably the most likeable guy in martial arts. He is friendly, funny and he never let this stuff go to his head unlike most of the people in combat sports nowadays where bragging and posturing is considered part of the game (a despicable trend started by Muhammad Ali in the 60′s). I hate combat sports but I really like this guy.

      Over here in Europe, we could also do our part to avoid animal torture. We could stop eating goose liver paté, for example, even if it seems EVERYONE is serving it to you at Christmas. I also have my doubts about lobsters which, to my knowledge, are always boiled alive, even when you buy them already boiled at the market.

      I am lucky in this respect since I don’t like liver, kidney or blood sausage or any other animal organs so I’m not even tempted to eat those. When I go to the market, I sometimes look at the lobsters in the tank. I feel pity for those creatures. But the most pitiful sight is that of a shark being amputated of its fins and thrown back in the ocean while still alive. This cruel, wasteful practice has got to stop.

      • In reply to #4 by NearlyNakedApe:

        Jackie Chan might be liked for foreign fans but he is quite despised by many in his native home city of Hong Kong. He’s constantly opening his mouth and saying in appropriate things not to mention he’s got a really bad reputation of expecting “favors” from female stars who want to move up in the industry. He’s even got children with from woman he’s had affairs with during his marriage. One minute he is saying Hong Kong has too much freedom of speech to try and please mainlain politicians and the next he is saying shark fin is bad and HE is trying to stop china from consuming it to make himself look like a hero. In fact the Chinese gov has already taken the initiative to ban shark fin years ago with many gold medalist/athletes (Guo Jingjing, Yao ming etc) signing up as spokes people.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gMVzhVDvUY

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJG7RaLX-DM

        In reply to #2 by justinesaracen:

        Bravo, Jackie Chan. I’ve never seen a single Kung-Fu or Chinese martial arts movie, but I already like this guy.

        I second that. Jackie Chan is probably the most likeable guy in martial arts. He is friendly, funny and he never let this stuff go to his head unlike m…

        • In reply to #16 by koruki:

          In reply to #4 by NearlyNakedApe:

          He’s constantly opening his mouth and saying in appropriate things not to mention he’s got a really bad reputation of expecting “favors” from female stars who want to move up in the industry. He’s even got children with from woman he’s had affairs with during his marriage.

          I can only find reference to one extra marital affair with Elaine Ng and one child (Etta). Neither have confirmed Etta is Chan’s daughter. This is just an unsubstantiated allegation from some of the Hong Kong media. I certainly won’t judge a man on gossip, nor for such lapses as these even if they be true. We have no idea of the circumstances of these things.

          Saying inappropriate things is not necessarily a problem. Any facts to go with these allegations would be appreciated.

        • Koruki is right. This story feels much more of a sudden shift in Jackie Chan’s PR strategy. He has taken a pro-Beijing stance for decades, insulting Hong Kong as a whole on a regular basis. Far from humanitarian and the recent uproar locally on shark fin’s is just low-hanging fruit for new public approval ratings and an image shift locally.
          Probably a great dude in real life, but he chose his side a long time ago.

          In reply to #16 by koruki:

          In reply to #4 by NearlyNakedApe:

          Jackie Chan might be liked for foreign fans but he is quite despised by many in his native home city of Hong Kong. He’s constantly opening his mouth and saying in appropriate things …

  3. I wonder if this sort of approach towards “alternative medicine” would work over here, a popular celebrity decrying pseudo science in public. It seems almost more credible in less sophisticated China than in the west but I’d still like to see PSA type ads trying to help.

  4. A sweet and gentle man. I have always thought of him as the Fred Astaire of our day.

    Much as I loathe celebrity and its maddening role of making role models for no good reason, sometimes things go right. JC has cultivated a modest and self effacing persona and an admirable dedication to his skill. Having accumulated wealth and fame and much positive personal capital, it is a delight to see him give back in championing this cause.

    It makes me wonder if the very concept of celebrity might be moved in this direction? True celebrities give back.

  5. Good for Jackie. He’s the type of person every celebrity should strive to be like. People like Bieber could do a lot for youths around the world if he would use Jackie as inspiration and teach them the right things and not to drink underage, drive drunk, do drugs, and resist arrest. Mr. Chan is in a unique position to sway the decisions of billions of people and put an end to, or a least slow down, destructive superstitions. It’s commendable that he is using his fame for good and fighting against tremendous odds.

    • In reply to #14 by steven.c:

      Good for Jackie. He’s the type of person every celebrity should strive to be like. People like Bieber could do a lot for youths around the world if he would use Jackie as inspiration and teach them the right things and not to drink underage, drive drunk, do drugs, and resist arrest. Mr. Chan is in a…

      I think “youths around the world” could do a lot better than either Bieber or Chan when it comes to role models.

  6. I uderstand JC did his own stunts. He broke many bones doing stunts in his films. People find humor in his performance but may be unaware of the price he payed to make it happen. He is and has always been his own real person. I wish him to live long and prosper. He is indeed an exceptional person.

  7. South Korea is another creation-myth-loving nation. The polls there are comparable to those in the USA for people who believe in creationism over evolution. In 2012, their lobbies had successfully removed Archeopteryx from textbooks. I believe it has been since overturned, thankfully, but it’s another country that has a lot of ‘anti-evolutionists’.

    In reply to #7 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #1 by adiroth:

    I’ve recently returned from my visit to Taiwan, aka, the better China. I have come to realise that it is a very superstitious country and despite my effort trying to find skeptic/atheist organisations, I could find one that’s still currently active. The only one that I fo…

  8. Jackie has a plastic plate in his skull to this day. He lost a portion of his skull while attempting a stung in The Armour of God. He’s a legend in Asia, especially in India. But more than being a mere action star, he’s proved himself to be a philanthropist and as this article would imply, an environmentalist at heart.
    My mother’s friend works for a charity for orphans and spoke to him briefly while he was promoting a movie in Mumbai. To her surprise, he took time out for her and has since helped the charity both through donation and endorsement.
    Jackie’s an awesome person. They should make more like him!
    In reply to #19 by mildcat:

    I uderstand JC did his own stunts. He broke many bones doing stunts in his films. People find humor in his performance but may be unaware of the price he payed to make it happen. He is and has always been his own real person. I wish him to live long and prosper. He is indeed an exceptional pers…

  9. In reply to #10 by Light Wave:

    Are there any famous Japanese people who can speak up against the horrid slaughter of dolphins for food…..The Aussie’s try and so does Greenpeace but it falls on deaf ears….

    we have the farroer islands nearer by .. try and convince those idiots from refraining to kill marine mammals..

  10. In reply to #14 by steven.c:

    Good for Jackie. He’s the type of person every celebrity should strive to be like. People like Bieber could do a lot for youths around the world if he would use Jackie as inspiration and teach them the right things and not to drink underage, drive drunk, do drugs, and resist arrest. Mr. Chan is in a…

    I don´t know a lot about the bieber guy.. but from what I read: he is more interested in his little dick, being the young guy he is, than trying to convince his horde of followers of anything else ( don´t even know if the boy knows anything worth knowing, but can´t imagine..)

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